Why do so many people let their dreams die unlived? The biggest reason, I suppose, is the negative, cynical attitudes of other people. Those other people are not enemies – they are friends, even family members. Our enemies never bother us greatly; we can usually handle them with little trouble. But our friends – if they are nay sayers, constantly punching holes in our dreams with a cynical smile here, a put-down there a constant stream of negative vibrations – our friends can kill us! A man gets excited about the possibility of a new job. He sees the opportunity to make more money, do more meaningful work, rise to a personal challenge; the old heart starts pounding and the juices begin to flow and he feels himself revving up for this stimulating new prospect. But gets a smirk, a laugh that says, “You can’t do that,” a foot-long list of all the problems and obstacles, and fifty reasons why he never will make it and is better off to stay where he is.
Before he knows it, his enthusiasm falls down to near zero. He goes back into the house like a whipped pup with his tail dragging on the ground and all the fire and self-confidence is gone and he begins to second-guess himself. Now he is thinking of all the reasons that he can’t make it instead of the reasons that he can. He lets one five-minute spiel of negativism or ridicule or just plain disbelief from a dream-nothing, do-nothing neighbor take the steam right out of his engine. Friends like that can do more damage then a dozen enemies can.
A young housewife decides to take knitting lessons so she can knit sweaters, afghans, all sorts of things. She gets a book and the needles and yarn and starts to learn the simplest knitting steps, full of visions of brightly colored mittens and clothes. Then her husband comes home from work and tells her how hard it is to knit, how she’ll have to work years to be any good at it, how many women have started and quit. He gives her one of those patented patronizing smiles that says, “You’ll never learn to knit very well, you poor thing.” And before he has left the room, she believes more in his cynicism then in her faith.
Remember that the easiest thing to find on God’s green earth is someone to tell you all the things you cannot do. Someone will always be eager to point out to you – perhaps merely with a look or a tone of voice – that anything new or daring which you try is hopelessly doomed to failure. Don’t listen to them! It is always the fellow who has never made ten thousand dollars a year who knows all the reasons why you can’t make thirty thousand. In the Boy Scouts, it is always the tenderfoot who can recite the reasons that you can’t make Eagle Scout. It is the college flunk-out who can explain why you are too dumb to get that degree; the fellow who never ran a business who can best describe the obstacles that make it impossible to get started; the girl who never entered a golf tournament who can most convincingly tell you why you don’t have a chance to win. Don’t listen to them! If you have a dream, whatever it is, dare to believe it and to try it. Give it a chance to happen! Don’t let your brother-in-law or your plumber or your husband’s fishing buddy or the guy in the next office rob you of that faith in yourself that makes things happen. Don’t let the guys who lie on the couch and watch television every night tell you how futile life is. If you have that flame of a dream down inside you somewhere, thank God for it, and do something about it. And don’t let anyone else blow it out.
My Father was a great believer in the potential of individual effort. Every time he heard me say the word “can’t” as a boy, he would say, “There is no such word as ‘can’t,’ and if you say it one more time I’ll knock your block right through the wall!” He never did that, but I never forgot the point he was making. I learned that there really are no good uses of the word “can’t”.
Believe you can, and you’ll find that you can! Try! You’ll be surprised at how many good things can happen.